Canada’s first heavy metal festival, Heavy T.O. was held over the weekend in Toronto at Downsview Park. Over a dozen bands played for two days, on two stages. All the artists on this bill are currently represented by the Creative Agency. With a collaboration Live Nation & Jagermeister, it had almost everything a Metal Fest could ask for. Over 20 bands performed along with some meet n’ greets, autograph signings, a mobile record store, some killer band merch for sale, and a backstage Jagermeister Bar fulled stocked with video games stations for entertainment. But of course, the weather brought along some challenges. With little refuge to escape the sun, the heat took its toll on some during the daytime performances. Sunburns and overheated concert goers were everywhere. I think many concert goers showed up later in the day, as the size of the crowd seemed to grow as the sun went down.
The line up was great on Saturday, with some disappointment. English metal legends Diamond Head was the first band I photographed, and these guys were fantastic. This band is recognized as one of the leading members of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and is acknowledged by Megadeth as an important early influence. How lucky we all were to know Megadeth would be headlining that evening. Texas Metal group, The Sword who were scheduled to hit the stage at 3:30 did not perform due to problems getting in the country that day. What a bummer this was, as they were one of the few bands I was really looking forward to seeing on the first day! Metalcore band As I lay dying, put on a high energy show. Not only are these guys talented, but rock hard live with a great stage presence. Singer Tim Lambesis commanded every ones attention. The energy in the crowd was beginning to grow and so was the heat. With temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, I started to overheat! I’m experienced with these summer festivals, and knew it was time to seek some shade, cool down and hydrate myself. I made by way back to the media area and had to miss Finnish rockers Children of Bodom! This was heartbreaking, as these guys traveled so far to come, and are not in the states very often. I could hear their set but the media tent was so far way that I couldn’t see them. This was another stab of disappointment because they were another band I really wanted to see.
Next up was Anthrax, and I wasn’t missing this one for anything! I was recharged, ready, and felt good for the rest of the night. A storm was coming through and the clouds brought us some much needed shade. This was the first time I’ve ever seen Anthrax, and they were amazing! They are known as one of the “big four” of thrash metal bands from the 1980’s, alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer! Long time singer Joey Belladonna is a fantastic front man with an amazing voice. Guitarist Scott Ian is quite the shredder and so popular with all the thrashers. Ian mentioned to the crowd that this was his first show in a month, because he has been feeding his new baby, and yelled out, “So I better see a war dance!” They surely got one, with horns held high and the dust kicked up high in the air over the pits forming down front. So far, this band brought the loudest cries from the crowd. Anthrax were all smiles on stage and I love to see a band having fun and enjoying their moment. Ian also thanked fans for being around for 30 plus years, yelling out, “1985 Man, we still ain’t stopping that shit!” They performed a new song, and plugged their upcoming release, due out this September.
Swedish progressive metal Opeth was next, and these guys were good, but they had heavy shoes to fill, playing after Anthrax. I didn’t quite understand the way this festival chose the order of band but these guys should of played before Anthrax. I really enjoyed their set and got amazing photos. I love the Northern European metal bands. Motorhead and Megadeth were next but mother nature took over and the rain started. It felt wonderful to get wet and cool down, but I wasn’t able to take photos. Another HUGE disappointment not shooting them, but thankful they were here! I have much love for both of these bands, and they didn’t disappoint! They rocked all their hits and didn’t let the storm alter their set. The crowd was pumped and definitely recharged. These two bands were the highlights of the day. The pits were crazy and the crowd surfing got quite slippery. I can only imagine how busy the first aide tent was on this day. The crowd was soaked with sweat and rain, but the smiles were everywhere. Day one was fun, but tomorrow was going to be better!
Sunday had a much better lineup of bands that I love and I was eager to see Volbeat. This danish band is a mix of rockabillly punk metal, and I love the singers voice. They were missing one guitarist, and the singer said, “We are missing one guitar guy today, he is a criminal and they wouldn’t let him in your country. But we don’t care!” What a relief that was. Just the thought of another band I was so looking forward to seeing, cancelling last minute would have sucked! So thank you so much Volbeat for showing up anyways! The also covered a Johnny Cash song, one of their biggest influences.
Legendary Canadian rockers Anvil graced the stage, and got a super warm welcome. They said it was the biggest outdoor show in Toronto they’ve ever played. I love the singer Steve “Lips” Kudlow! He is such a ham on stage. His happiness and energy was infectious to all! He performed with his famous vibrating vibrator, using it as a guitar pick, creating sounds that I’ve never heard of before on the guitar. Kudlow also played the guitar with his mouth. I wonder if that’s why they call him “Lips?” Anvil interacted with the crowd more than anyone so far and performed a very entertaining set!
Mastodon was definitely the highlight of the day for me! These guys are one of my favorites. It’s not just their music that I love, but their live performance too. They have two singers, front man bassist/singer Troy Sanders and guitarist/singer Brent Hinds. Sanders was in full form, intense, powerful, and energetic. Hinds made me laugh out loud when he said to the crowd, “Its good to be back in America!” The crowd went dead silent! Then someone yelled out, your in Canada! They have been touring Europe all summer, and this was their first show back in North America, but it wasn’t America. They played a killer set of songs old and new. My only complaint was it was daylight out. The pit was crazier than ever and I knew it was only going to get crazier!
Next up was Slayer!! You know these guys never disappoint. There were so many hard core fans just for them that after they played, thousands of people left! I couldn’t believe the sea of people leaving! It was still light out with two more bands to go. Billy Talent was next, maybe that was the problem?! Yeah, he is Canadian, but he just didn’t fit the “heavy” category for this festival. And how can you put Billy after SLAYER?!! It was an insult to many. When I asked concert goers why they were leaving, they said they came to see Slayer, or they were leaving because of Billy!
When Billy Talent came out he was boo’ed and had bottles and food thrown at him. People in the crowd had made signs, saying “Billy go home”, and I actually felt bad for the guys. After the second song, the crowd started throwing food. When the gravy started being tossed all the photographers were quickly escorted out the photo pit. Things got a little hairy, but the band finished their set and now it was time for another favorite of mine, Rob Zombie!
The finale was fantastic! Zombies, monsters, aliens, lots of pyro, along with horror shock rock, and the crowd went wild. These guys put on a killer theatrical show that is so high energy and entertaining that they stole not only the show, but of the entire weekend!
Stay tuned for more photos!! I took over 2000 photos, and have so many awesome ones to post!!
Mastodon Setlist @ Heavy T.O. Festival 7.24.2011 Downsview Park. Toronto, Ontario
MARCH OF THE FIRE ANTS
CRACK THE SKYE
Slayer Setlist @ Heavy T.O. Festival 7.24.2011 Downview Park. Toronto, Ontario
World Painted Blood
Dead Skin Mask
Spirit in Black
Seasons in the Abyss
South of Heaven
Angel of Death
Rob Zombie Setlist @ Heavy T.O. Festival 7.24.2011 Downsview Park. Toronto, Ontario
Scum of the Earth
Living Dead Girl
More Human Than Human
Mars Needs Women
Thunder Kiss ’65
Never Gonna Stop
Lords of Salem